Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Image Credit: AP

On the forthcoming polls in Russia, one fact is for certain: the battle for the post of president has narrowed down to Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. What else can one expect from a two-horse race?

The fact that this is happening with no third contender in sight — in a blow to political freedom the ministry of justice refused to enlist a new political party called Parnassus, backed by former prime minister and senior politician Mikhail Kasyanov — is insulting to Russians. Medvedev goes about espousing the need for liberalising the Kremlin's political and economic system, but the world and Russians know that there is a caveat attached to this ambition: it can only happen if he is put in the hot seat.

Bureaucracy, corruption and the recession are stunting Russia's growth. It can no longer hope to keep up with other emerging economies if an environment to foster business and investment is not created. In a country where the president and prime minister are seen to be hand-in-glove and projecting themselves as the people's only hope — probably much against the will of the people themselves — there is little expectation of taking a step forward. The silver lining is that both leaders know what could propel Russia forward. The election could make interesting theatre.